11 flights are reported to have landed at Volk Field Air National Guard at Camp Douglas, Wisconsin yesterday, according to the Director of Public Affairs of the 88th Readiness Division at Ft. McCoy.
Wisconsin’s local NBC station reports, “Transportation, temporary housing, medical screening, and general support are being provided for 50,000 Afghan evacuees as quickly as possible.”
“It was not specified the number of refugees that had arrived on those flights” and there are already a few thousand Afghan refugees living at Fort McCoy. More will reportedly be arriving in the coming days.
“In time, more than 10,000 men, women, and children may get processed through the fort before relocating across the country according to figures released by both the Department of Defense, along with state and local officials and agencies” WXOW News 19.
Video shows U.S. Army Soldiers handing out toys and basic necessities such as soap and other hygiene products to the refugees as they arrive at the Fort McCoy base. “Items being handed out are part of 1,600 comfort kits currently being issued by the American Red Cross, reports the U.S. Army 181st Multifunctional Training Brigade.”
“The Department of Defense, through U.S. Northern Command, with the support of the Department of State and Department of Homeland Security is assisting in the effort.
The initiative will provide Afghan personnel essential support at secure locations outside Afghanistan” adds the NBC News affiliate.
WXOW News 19 detailed a “day in the life” at the fort with the refugees:
Q: What is the day-to-day life currently for the Afghan people?
A: The Afghans are free to conduct their lives as they desire. On any given day you might see some folks jogging or walking in the morning for exercise. Women are washing clothes and hanging them on clotheslines for drying. Kids are playing with balls and a soccer field is available for games. Places of worship with prayer rugs are available to accommodate religious needs. Dining facilities are open for meals. Miscellaneous personal items and some food and drinks are available for purchase through post exchange trailers located in the neighborhoods.
Q: What kind of food is being offered/prepared for them?
A: Dining facilities are available for all meals, and a grab-and-go option is also offered. Culturally appropriate food is available.
Q: What kind of help/volunteers are being allowed on base and what kind of services are currently being offered?
A: We have the USO on the ground to support Soldiers who are part of Task Force McCoy. We are working with a number of interagency partners and non-governmental organizations. These include the Department of Homeland Security, Department of State, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and International Rescue Committee, to name a few. Also on the ground to support Task Force McCoy are Team Rubicon, American Red Cross, and Catholic Charities of the Diocese of La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Q: Are vaccinations for COVID-19 being offered and are Afghans encouraged to wear masks on base or is it mandated for all persons on base?
A: Medical screening is one of the services offered. Afghans are tested for COVID-19 and will receive COVID-19 vaccinations. Afghans are asked to wear masks.
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